Zenit 412LS - A Review of a Smart Sultry Russian SLR


An intelligent and alluring offering from Zenit could adorn your camera shelf or occupy your camera bag. A sweet price for this SLR makes it very tempting.

Credits: neanderthalis

In 2010 I had just been a year back into shooting film. I had an Action Sampler, a Holga 135, a Diana F+ and my Canon AE-1. I wanted something new to challenge myself and at this time my acquisition addiction was only in the fledgling stages. I did not have a lot of money allocated to photography due to other hobbies. I searched Auction sites and then Lomography. The other cameras I wanted like the LC-A+ and Lubitel 166 seemed out of my reach financially. I did find a little Russian Beauty named the Zenit 412LS within my budget.

It appealed to me for many reasons. First of which is that it was manual. It offered a light meter, which to someone still learning a lot, was a useful crutch. Secondly, it had DX coding included that helped automatically set the light meter. Thirdly, under all that plastic was a sturdy metal frame.

I took it out on my first run with some Fuji 200

Credits: neanderthalis

I began to trust the light meter. I also learned that the release for the film rewind located by the shutter release also resets the film counter. This takes a little self training not to hit that and lose count of your number of exposures left.

The 412LS Also has a cable release that made for some long exposure fun in bulb mode one during the Christmas display of 2010 with some 400cn

Credits: neanderthalis

The camera is great with B&W photos too. I used an orange filter and decided I was really going to put the light meter to the test one afternoon with mixed lighting and bright lights. It handle the test well to me.

Credits: neanderthalis

The camera offers a tripod thread and a self timer that you wind via a wheel which is more than adequate for family portraits or self pics. The DX coding is sensitive from 25-3200 iso which is a real advantage as you can use nearly any 35mm film available today.

The lens is sharp and with Lomo offering new glass lenses recently, you can open up the repertoire of the 412LS camera. I recommend this camera who wants to open up their skills from a LC-A+ and still wants the fun of a Russian camera. Not too expensive, but it is a ton of fun. I have never regretted the purchase.

dive in and get one for yourself


written by neanderthalis on 2013-02-13 #gear #test #russian #review #slr #zenit #dx


  1. kneehigh85
    kneehigh85 ·

    Just bought this camera - cannot wait to try it

  2. ricoinbrooklyn
    ricoinbrooklyn ·

    Cool looking camera, sharp, fast lens and a lens mount to work with many older lenses. The light meter is accurate and the camera is a great price. I love this fun camera!

  3. davecmorrow
    davecmorrow ·

    I've been looking at this camera and the KM+ for the last few weeks. I've been told the KM+ is not very reliable, after reading this article I now really want to get the 412LS.

  4. alex34
    alex34 ·

    Nice review!

  5. neanderthalis
    neanderthalis ·

    @davecmorrow @kneehigh85 I hope you are happy with the 412 as I am. Good luck!

  6. davecmorrow
    davecmorrow ·

    @neanderthalis I've not got the camera yet but it is the one I want :)

  7. cherub38
    cherub38 ·

    I own a 412LS wayyyy before Lomography sells it, and am VERY SATISFIED with the camera ! Love the look also !!!

  8. neanderthalis
    neanderthalis ·

    @cherub38 Awesome to hear. Seeing the love this camera receives, makes me want to put it higher in my camera rotation again.

  9. adam_g2000
    adam_g2000 ·

    Top article, good response. It's M42 mount isn't it? You can see the russian glass influence on those shots!

  10. neanderthalis
    neanderthalis ·

    Good call @adam_g2000 , It is a M42 mount. I am saving my piggies for a new lens.

  11. cherub38
    cherub38 ·

    @neanderthalis it seems you have the same problem as me ! I have so much cameras, almost a small collection now, that I use some not often, even if I like too ! What a shame ! lol

  12. andronidze
    andronidze ·

    Funny thing, that in Russia nobody likes 412LS :)

  13. jaybees80
    jaybees80 ·

    good review , this is my 3rd roll with it , and I 'm really happy , simply &

  14. davecmorrow
    davecmorrow ·

    Just ordered this camera, a good use of my piggies. Does anyone know where I can download an English manual or can someone tell me what the wheel on the side of the camera is for???

  15. kneehigh85
    kneehigh85 ·

    @davecmorrow This isn't going to help you greatly but I have struggled to find an English manual. I usually go to this site (buktus or something) but even he didn't have one.

  16. davecmorrow
    davecmorrow ·

    @kneehigh85, thanks for the reply :) I've been told that the wheel on the side is the timer. I guess that the rest of the camera is relatively easy to use??

  17. kneehigh85
    kneehigh85 ·

    @davecmorrow I can't really help with that I am afraid as I have only just managed to get the batteries for it as they seem very elusive and hard to find so I haven't shot a roll on it yet. It came with like a booklet thing. Hang on let me get it and will have a look.

  18. davecmorrow
    davecmorrow ·

    @kneehigh85 did it not come with the batteries??? Do you remember what batteries are needed? I had best order some now just in case :(

  19. kneehigh85
    kneehigh85 ·

    @davecmorrow No it doesn't come with batteries (I got mine from Lomo). I ordered mine off ebay as impossible to find anywhere else and they are duracell D386 X 2.
    It does come with a bag and Zenit strap though.

  20. davecmorrow
    davecmorrow ·

    @kneehigh85 well I guess it is good that it comes with a bag and strap. I've also ordered mine from Lomo, waiting for it to be shipped so should be able to get batteries in time for the arrival of the camera :)

  21. neanderthalis
    neanderthalis ·

    @davecmorrow @kneehigh85 I use 386/301 button batteries I bought at the local drug store and they have lasted me 2 1/2 years. They were very inexpensive too. If you do not want to use the light meter, the batteries are unnecessary. I take them out when I do long exposures to prevent the batteries from wearing out. Hope this helps

  22. kneehigh85
    kneehigh85 ·

    @neanderthalis - I wish I had asked you 2 weeks ago, no-one at Lomography could tell me what batteries I needed, neither could anyone on Flickr! I want to use it with the light meter really as I already have a Zenit TTL that I have to pair with a Leningrad meter because I can't put a battery in it.

  23. neanderthalis
    neanderthalis ·

    @kneehigh85 I have been re-inspired by the interest here and purchased myself a used 28mm lens today for my Zenit. You may not have anymore questions, but feel free to ask anytime. I have a Zenit 412 group on Flickr if you want to contact or join if the mood strikes. I will admit it is small group. "here":www.flickr.com/groups/1597124@N22/

  24. kneehigh85
    kneehigh85 ·

    Thanks a lot, I will bear that in mind!

  25. digilio
    digilio ·

    I cannot seem to ever get a green diode in my viewer. Always the lower red. What am I doing wrong?

  26. neanderthalis
    neanderthalis ·

    @digilio I have been meaning to write a second article on use. If you get your sensor always going to the lower red, it could be a sensor issue. But, on the other hand if the light meter sort of goes from top red...the green lights up briefly then goes bottom red. It will still take a decent picture in my experience. It reminds me of the yellow on a traffic light. If the green lights up briefly, most times it is your signal to take that pic. Color Negative and B&W forgive a little so it helps.

  27. digilio
    digilio ·

    Thank you! Maybe I will just shoot a roll and see what happens!

  28. deepfried_goodness
    deepfried_goodness ·

    I was going to pick one of these up when it was available at the Lomo store here in Toronto, but I didn't have the extra cash at the time so let it slip away. I've never seen it again.

  29. pavementsofsilver
    pavementsofsilver ·

    Personally, I would be cautious before buying this model. The 412-LS uses DX coding with no over-ride, so you can't control the light-meter directly when you want to push or pull the film. Also the late model plastic Zenit's tend to leak around the film door. Instead, for a manual Zenit, I'd recommend going for the Zenit 12XP (which the 412-LS is a cost-reduced version of, with some new but not better electronics added).

    For those considering the KM auto models, if you specifically want to stay loyal to the Zenit brand, I'd reccomend the Zenit APK - hard to find but really good (beware the earlier Zenit AM and Automat range, which were aperture priority only - no manual over-ride). Alternatively, the Chinon CE-4 / CE-5 models are affordable, excellent K-mount cameras with full manual or aperture priority modes - and tend to be cheaper than the Soviet models, being more common and less popular.

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